Just as individual students learn in different ways, they also express their acquired knowledge differently (Dolmage, 2015).

Making several assessment formats available to students that allow for different ways of applying and communicating course material can result in more comprehensive learning and fair evaluation.

Consider enhancing your evaluation of student learning by drawing on examples listed below.

As a starting point, we recommend:

  1. Ensuring a variety of assessments are available; as well as
  2. Providing some flexibility for students to choose a preferred assessment format from several options.
Varied Assessments for all Students Assess all students through a variety of means and, if possible, give students some choice.

For example:

  • Varied Timing: Have students complete several different assessments over the course, in addition to a final assessment at the end;
  • Varied Type: Design assessments that approach knowledge and learning in different ways, such as:
    • reflective assignments that encourage students to consider how and what they have learned;
    • reports that describe what a student has done;
    • research essays that present an argument and answer a question; and/or
    • literature reviews that identify a knowledge gap and synthesize key ideas across literature.
  • Varied Format: Offer written, oral, practical (e.g. role play, performance of a skill), individual, group, and/or creative (visual, multi-sensory) options.

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Case Study with Manifying Glass

Curious About Creative Assignments?

Keeping it creative in biochemistry

Broege (2016) developed a creative assignment for his biochemistry class, and only had 2/40 students elect to write a traditional paper instead.

The creative option aligned with his teaching philosophy of encouraging students to bring their perspectives to class, and reinforced the role of creativity in scientific activities like synthesizing data, developing new frameworks, and effectively communicating ideas.

Promoting pedagogies of collaboration and social change

Desyllas and Sinclair (2014) had students create self-published (maga)“zines” in their social work class as a subversive way to challenge mainstream media and contribute to creative expression, connection, and collaboration in the classroom.

They call for arts-based projects as a way to further promote embodied learning and personal and societal transformation.

Making evaluation fun for instructors

Reynolds, Stevens, and West (2013) incorporated creative assignments into business and education professional schools.

Not only did the majority of students find the assignments valuable, students also indicated that they were helpful in generating insights and deepening understandings of course content.

As a bonus, the professors found the creative assignments much more interesting to grade than typically assigned tasks (Weimer, 2015).

End of Case Study


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